Words Beyond Walls: Free the Adelanto 4

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Four men at the 1300-bed Adelanto Immigration Detention Center in California launched the Free the People Campaign today, calling for their release and an end to the inhumane practice of immigration detention. The men are launching this campaign just days before Adelanto expands by another 640 beds and begins detaining women, including possibly about 50 transgender women.

The men explain that they have suffered mental and physical health problems as a result of being locked up for months and years inside this facility, which is owned and managed by GEO Group. This campaign comes on the heels of a blistering letterissued by the ACLU of Southern California in May, documenting a pattern of medical neglect and mistreatment at the facility. Other privately-run immigration detention facilities have been criticized for their lack of appropriate medical care, including theEloy Detention Center in Arizona where 200 men recently went on a hunger strike in protest.

The Adelanto 4--Carlos Hidalgo, Gerardo Corrales, Kevin Arevalo, and Victor Calderon--are being supported by Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), theImmigrant Youth Coalition (IYC), and Resistencia Autonomia Igualdad Liderazgo (RAIZ).

Carlos Hidalgo, who was thrown into solitary confinement at Adelanto and then transferred to another detention facility, says that people are not being treated properly at Adelanto. Hidalgo, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), says that treatment for his condition is "less than zero" in immigration detention. When he asked for help from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) at Adelanto, ICE said, "Talk to GEO; it's their house." When he asked for help from GEO, he says that a GEO officer told him, "Our motto is we don't get paid enough to give a shit."

Hidalgo, an outspoken advocate against the immigration detention system, was detained at Adelanto in February 2015, despite being previously released on an immigration bond that he had not violated. Hidalgo says GEO Group and ICE then threw him into solitary confinement in May because he was supporting the other men in detention in a myriad of ways, including by filing grievances.

After over 72 hours in solitary confinement, Hidalgo was transferred to Theo Lacy Facility because, as he was told by ICE, "GEO Group doesn't want you here." Hidalgo's court date has been postponed three times, due to this transfer and to a series of missteps by ICE, including "forgetting" to transfer Hidalgo and his file from the detention facility to his court hearing. On June 29th, his attorney was informed that the next court date is set for July 7th in Los Angeles.

CIVIC, NDLON, IYC, and RAIZ believe that Hidalgo would have been released on May 19th, his initial court date. We are concerned that ICE is evading the immigration court process and interfering with the administration of justice. Additionally, we believe ICE's actions against Hidalgo raise grave First Amendment concerns, as they seem to be in retaliation for Hidalgo's exercise of free speech.

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